Android Wear and Skype — Video Chatting on your Smartwatch?

The wearable technology sector continues to grow at a steady pace, with companies adding new features and functionality hoping to convince consumers to make a smartwatch an essential part of their life. While Android Wear doesn’t enjoy the hipness factor of the Apple Watch, or the market share of its smartphone OS brother, the addition of Skype support to the platform hopes to change things. Will you soon be channeling your inner Dick Tracy while video chatting with friends from your wrist?

Smartwath call

Here’s a closer look at the details on Skype for Android Wear.

Not So Fast Dick Tracy

While Skype support for Android Wear enhances your smart watch, it doesn’t include the ability to video chat on your wrist. Since most Android Wear compatible watches are typically tethered to an Android phone — just like the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 — you actually perform a video chat session using your phone.

As video chatting is a bandwidth-intensive task, be sure to run a quick speed test to ensure your chat won’t be hampered by poor performance.

Android Wear’s new Skype support offers some useful functionality that nicely leverages a tethered smartwatch. Most notably you are able to read and reply to Skype messages using a watch’s voice-to-text feature. This is probably the closest thing to a true Dick Tracy experience offered by the platform.

The ability to hand draw your own emoji responses is another interesting, if not useful, feature. Finally, you are able to take Skype calls on your watch; it transfers the call to your smartphone for a video chat session. Apple Watch owners needn’t feel left out as these same features are already available on the Skype for the Apple Watch app.

The Future of Smartwatches Needs to be Untethered

The fact the current line of smartwatches typically need to be tethered to a smartphone is arguably one of things hampering greater adoption of the technology. For users who don’t need a 5-inch or greater smartphone screen and just want a device for text messaging, phone calls, and video chat, a true untethered smartwatch definitely fits the bill.

It remains to be seen how soon before Apple, Google, or another tech firm is willing to make the investment in further developing the smartwatch concept. When that happens, expect users everywhere to be using up their monthly data allowance talking into their 21st Century wristwatches.